Lower backs hurt with new Sleep on Latex mattress

Both my wife and I wake up with “worn out” lower backs after sleeping on our new Sleep on Latex Pure Green Natural Latex Mattress (6" king size medium firmness). It feels like our lower backs are arched too much, and we need a good stretch in the morning. I wake up repeatedly to find a new comfortable position. I prefer to sleep on my back, but in order to get comfortable, I end up on my sides and even my stomach.
From reading the forums, it seems like a quality brand. I could still return it, but I’m wondering if I could correct the issue with one of their toppers. But I have no idea which topper to try. 1", 2", 3"? Firm, medium, soft? How would I figure this out?

Hello and thanks for reaching out! I’d be happy to help, I would just need a bit more information to make an accurate recommendation. If you don’t mind me asking, about how tall are both of you, about how much do you each weigh, and does your wife normally sleep on her side, stomach, or back?

Sorry, I intended to provide that, but forgot!

6’, 180 lbs (male) - Sleeps primarily on back, but also sides and rarely stomach
5’ 6", 130 lbs (female) - Sleeps on sides and back, never stomach

Lower back pain is normally attributed to a mattress being too soft / not having enough primary support. Lower back pain is also sometimes attributed to a lack of secondary support, which describes the way a mattress fills in the gaps between your body and the mattress. For example, side sleepers normally benefit from secondary support when the top portion of the mattress fills in the gaps between the mattress and the area just under a person’s ribs. If that section isn’t held up by the mattress properly, your lower back muscles will strain through the night to help keep your spine straight, leading to lower back pain. Back sleepers normally benefit from secondary support when it fills in the gaps between the small of your back and the mattress. If you feel like this is the issue, then a 3” soft Talalay would be the best way to get the mattress dialed in. If you’re going to stick with Sleep On Latex for your topper, then you would have to get a 3” soft Dunlop topper, although Dunlop won’t provide as much secondary support as a Talalay topper since Talalay is much better at contouring to the curves of your body. If you add a 3” soft topper and your back pain gets worse, then it’s likely that the 6” core of medium Dunlop isn’t supportive enough.

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Thank you for the excellent insights!
Since Sleep on Latex only offers Dunlop latex, I think I’ll shop around for a topper. Is it also worth considering memory foam? My understanding from reading the forums is that latex is generally more durable, and that it probably comes does to personal preference.

Also, my understanding is that the Pure Green mattress already includes a 2" comfort layer with 20 ILD Dunlop latex. If I am looking for a softer Talalay topper, does that mean I would want something lower than 20 ILD?

There are many differences between memory foam and latex - latex is a natural product that is certified against harmful chemicals and off gassing. Latex mattress typically last 20 years (sometimes 30-40 years) whereas memory foam mattresses typically last 5-8 years. Latex is an open-celled product that is naturally breathable and sleeps cool, whereas memory foam is close-celled and traps body heat, causing it to sleep hot. Memory foam gets softer as you sleep on it and latex does not change feel over the night. The main reason I recommended a latex topper instead of memory foam is because as the memory foam topper softens over the course of the night, you will be closer to the firm mattress that you’re trying to move away from, which may lead to pressure point issues.

At your height & weight I don’t think a super soft topper (14-16 ILD) would be a good choice because there’s a chance that you bottom out on that topper and, again, sink down to the firm mattress that you’re trying to move away from.

If I were to buy from Latex Mattress Factory, do you think I should get the 3” Talalay soft (19 ILD) topper?

Yes, based on all the information you’ve provided, I think a 3" soft (19ILD) Talalay topper has the best chance to be successful for you two.

Apologies for hijacking the thread, but I have a question based on what you said above. I am currently testing out a soft talalay topper (19 ild) and I’m feeling like I’m not getting secondary support because the latex is too soft. It certainly fills in the gaps when laying on my back and side, but I feel like it’s just filling in the gaps with light fluff. That is, I don’t feel like it’s dense enough to provide any support. Do you think I would be better off with a higher ILD, or perhaps dunlop? I’m 6’1" and 160 lbs. Thanks!

I was in your same situation with your SleepOnLatex mattress and am 6’1 175lb myself. I actually completely agree with Sleep On Latex that you should not go with one of their toppers, but go for a medium soft Talalay topper that is slightly firmer than the one that SleepOnLatex provides. The reason for this is that their soft layers are actually extremely soft and I found that I sunk right through it. I would personally recommend looking for something like 3" 22-25 ILD for your Talalay topper to go on top of your medium firmness 6" SleepOnLatex.

Are you encountering any problems specific to a lack of secondary support, or is this just a matter of feel & preference? Please keep in mind that you don’t always “feel” secondary support in the way that you might think, but you’ll notice if you’re getting enough of it because of the lack of pain or discomfort.

It is based on a feel/preference, but I do get some mild discomfort. Just some stiffness in the lower middle back right where the lowest rib meets the spine, with the side depending on which side I’ve been laying on. It goes away very quickly when I shift positions, but I notice myself feeling more tired than usual during the day than when I was laying on my firm mattress by itself. Kind of echoing what justishar said – I feel like I’m kind of going right through the topper, like it’s not very substantive.

edit: I’d like to retract part of what I said about going through. I’ve laid down again and I’m feeling some benefit. But again, I don’t feel like there’s any substance in the sections where it’s filling in the gaps. I feel like I need more pushback in those areas.

In that case, a soft Dunlop topper would likely be a better choice than a soft Talalay topper. Please note that the soft Dunlop topper will be just as soft or firm as the soft Talalay topper, but it won’t have as much “give” to it. The other option would be to get a medium Talalay layer, which would be firmer than the soft Dunlop layer by a noticeable degree, and we don’t normally recommend medium for the top layer for people under 180 pounds unless they prefer a firmer mattress.

After a few more nights I think I have a new insight into what’s happening in my situation. Although the soft latex is very soft, I think it’s not dense enough to completely take away the very firm feel of the mattress below it. Would your recommendation for the dunlop or firmer talalay still stand? I feel like that would work but it’s also a bit counterintuitive – although those two choices would feel a bit firmer initially, they wouldn’t let me sink in as much toward the firm surface beneath.

Yes I would try either a soft Dunlop or medium Talalay, and either one has a good chance of working for you, but I can’t say in advance which one would be better. If it would help, we’d be happy to send you latex samples. Just email your name and shipping address to [email protected]

This is so similar to what i’m going through with my new talalay mattress. I found it so hard to tell if it was too soft or too firm. I felt like for sure i’m sinking in a bit more than i’d like but it didn’t seem like it was too much sinkage. At the same time it also felt like it was to firm and hurting my ribs, joints (knees etc) and generally feel uncomfortable pressure points.

I also had come to some conclusion at one point where i thought, i think the top 2" soft layer was not strong enough or “dense” enough to support me enough and i sink into the hard firm core underneath. I tried flipping the mattress upside down and sleeping on the firm core but it still wasn’t good. I felt like i still sunk, but less so, into a unforgiving core. So it was almost a double whammy of not being quite supportive enough and sinking into a hard surface which almost seems to worsen the initial lack of support at the top inch or two. My back and joint pain have definitely been worse since the new mattress.

I’m considering trying to go and put a nice thick plush, but denser topper on top (memory foam or something else). You’re right, it almost seems the latex isn’t “dense” enough. I mentioned this a few weeks ago too.

Quick update. We decided to go with the 3" soft talalay topper from Latex Mattress Factory. Unfortunately I think we went too far in the opposite direction. While the Sleep On Latex mattress didn’t have enough “give”, the talalay topper gave too much. The middle part of my body sunk in too much, curving my spine. The result was worse that than the original problem.

At this point we are returning the topper (getting it to fit back into the box was fun…I have some advice if anyone is interested). We considered exchanging it for Latex Mattress Factory’s 2" topper, but I’m concerned it would also “give” too much. We might go with Sleep On Latex’s 1" soft topper, but are still undecided.

I want to give you some input based on my experience. The problem may not be with the topper but 6 inches of medium core. I assume you have two layers for medium that are 3 inches each? In that case maybe swap one for 3" Firm or Extra Firm Dunlop. That way you can try different configurations of layering to get the best possible zoning effect.
I am 5’8" and 160 Lbs. Mostly back and side sleeper occasionally stomach. I have four laters : Extra Firm, Firm, Medium and 2" Soft Talalay. When I layered them Top to Bottom: Soft, Med, Firm, E.Firm, I felt I was sinking in and had back pain. So I reaaranged it as Soft, E.Firm, Med, Firm. It was the best for me, got good core support and contouring support for all sleeping positions.

So bottom line, if you had 3 different densities, you will have more options to play around with and find the right feel. For example, with 3 minimum layers some do top to bottom: Medium, soft, and Firm, OR Soft, Firm and medium.
With just two densities: 6" Med and 3" Soft, you may not have much options with achieve a zoning effect.

Just my 2 cents. Think about it. If you have free return window utilize it to try different combinations.

Just a point of clarification about SOL’s latex mattresses, they come in either Standard or Low Profile versions. The Low Profile mattress is a single 6" natural latex core, while the Standard version adds a 2" latex comfort layer on top of a 6" core. Their Standard 8" mattress configurations are as follows:

Standard Soft - 24 ILD 6" base with a 2" 20 ILD top layer
Standard Medium - 34 ILD 6" base with a 2" 20 ILD top layer
Standard Firm - 44 ILD 6" base with a 2" 30 ILD top layer

If you want more flexibility in arranging layers as suggested by @mendelnewton above you could order a combination of SOL toppers and assemble your own custom mattress within a cover (which is available and ordered separately), rather than going with their Standard mattress which uses a solid 6" core. As far as swapping layers though their policy allows a single return per product category within one year, so if you make a single exchange you can’t return or exchange it again.

(I’m not sure this discussion focused on SOL really belongs here in Latex Mattress Factory’s forum, but wanted to add the above info since it’s directly related to this thread. Hope it helps!)

  • Bill